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Smoking hot: 5 of America’s most extreme BBQ rigs, from battle tanks to jet airlines

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David Klose is America’s leading authority on extreme barbecue equipment.

The founders of BBQ Pits by Klose in Houston, Texas have custom built many of the world’s largest, most beautiful, and most ambitious smokers.

These include a motorcycle sidecar that can barbecue ribs at 100 miles per hour, a giant beer bottle smoker and an impressive contraption designed to look like a giant model of a commercial airliner.

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Yes, there’s a lot of ego, showmanship and all-American barbecue bravado behind ordering this extreme rig.

But the top customer motivators are easy to identify.

“This is a charity,” Klose says. “We take part in events with barbecue pits and feed thousands of people, which helps raise millions of dollars a year.”

On the left is a smoker designed to look like an M1A1 Abrams tank from WarPigs BBQ in Texas, and on the right is a military surplus tow truck used by C&J Sand Pigs in New Hampshire. (Dennis Butterworth, John Giannelli)

John Giannelli, a former Marine from Raymond, New Hampshire, has also seen the charitable impact of his converted barbecue equipment.

He uses a military surplus tow truck to haul around a pig-shaped smoker he’s made from a giant propane tank.

Giannelli was planning to host a barbecue for friends and family, and the barbecue equipment and food were a big hit with party-goers.

“It’s deeply ingrained in our culture.”

He’s recently cooked for wounded soldiers and veterans groups, and last year he even demonstrated how he cooked a pig in a pig-shaped smoker at his hometown’s Memorial Day parade, sending up a trail of smoky, aromatic goodness.

Barbecue, charity work and veterans are a natural American combination, says Army veteran and barbecue champion Dennis Butterworth of WarPig BBQ in Crosby, Texas.

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“Anyone who was in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines, in their free time they’d have a grill and a charcoal fire and cold beer and they’d get together that way,” Butterworth said.

“It’s deeply ingrained in our culture.”

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1. A-Class Carrier 76ft Trailer Smoker

Biggest BBQ Trailer

Terry Folsom of Brenham, Texas, owns what’s billed as the world’s largest mobile barbecue unit, a 76-foot-long trailer that can cook up to 12,000 pounds of meat at a time. (Terry Folsom/A-class aircraft carrier)

Billed as the world’s largest mobile barbecue unit, the Benham, Texas, Class A carrier can smoke up to 12,000 pounds of meat at a time.

Terry Folsom uses his full-size 40-ton trailer for charity events and disaster relief efforts.

When Category 4 Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas coast in August 2017, he rushed the rig to help deliver food to disaster victims.

2. Klose Aircraft BBQ Pit

Jet Airways BBQ Smoker

David Klose of BBQ Pits by Klose in Houston, Texas, spent nine months building this scale model airliner smoker. (David Klose/BBQ Pit by Klose)

Klose spent nine months building the smoker as a scale model of a commercial jetliner styled after the former Continental Airlines planes.

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Klose has built thousands of custom barbecue equipment over the decades.

This piece in particular, he said, is “breathtakingly beautiful.”

3. C&J Sandpigs Military Tow Truck

Military Surplus BBQ Truck

John Giannelli of Raymond, New Hampshire, transports his giant barbecue smoker to the event in his 1991 BMY M92 military surplus truck. (John Giannelli/C&J’s Sandpig)

Giannelli, a former US Marine, transformed a giant green propane tank into a work of art: a giant pig-shaped smoker, complete with snout, flaming eyes and even a spiraling tail.

There is also decoration on the back to indicate that it is a male pig.

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The vehicle proved too heavy to be towed by a regular truck, so he found a military surplus tow truck to do the job.

The combination of a patriotic truck and a mischievous boar (who is, er, anatomically correct) is a big hit at parties, charity events and parades.

4. Orange County Choppers RUB BBQ Sidecar

Motorcycle Sidecar Smoker

BBQ Pits by Klose has built motorcycle sidecar smokers for Orange County Choppers and RUB Barbecue in New York. (David Klose/BBQ Pit by Klose)

Klose built a motorcycle sidecar-mounted smoker for an episode of “American Chopper,” starring the Teutul family of Orange County Choppers in upstate New York.

The episode featured RUB Barbecue, a popular barbecue restaurant group at the time.

“It costs as much as a Bentley,” Andrew Fishel of RUB Barbecue said at the time.

This stylish barbecue can reach speeds of 100mph and cook up to 20 racks of ribs.

5. WarPig BBQ M1A1 Abrams Tank

Butterworth is a legendary barbecue champion who served as a tank driver in the United States Army.

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The tank model proved to be the perfect design for the smokers on his competitive barbecue team.

WarPig BBQ’s M1A1 model barbecue smoker. Dennis Butterworth of Houston, Texas, who leads the competitive barbecue team, served in the U.S. Army tank unit. (Dennis Butterworth/Warpig BBQ)

The tracks worked, allowing Butterworth to roll the device onto the barbecue battlefield, the barrel being, of course, the chimney for the smoker’s exhaust.

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